Yule Blog 2010: Personal Meaning
Published on: December 30, 2010
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  • Neville

    I hate to criticize a writer who so regularly provides so many useful insights, but a previously enlightening series of blog posts unfortunately melts above into a mush.


    “Theists… think meaning really means something, that it all adds up.”

    “…theists in all the great religions have tried to make sense of the immensity of meaning that they see coiled at the center of the universe”.

    Surely such phrases belong, if anywhere, on the pages of ‘The Onion’. As a serious attempt to show that what Christians believe about Christmas is either accessible or persuasive, they are sadly self-refuting.

  • jbay

    I enjoyed this and agree w. you Walter. Thanks!

  • JLK

    Sorry Neville

    Atheism, especially of the Left Bank Parisian cafe’ style, is a form of Narcissism mixed with arrogance. I am an Agnostic but also a firm believer in a Rational Universe. As Einstein said very few have the courage to accept the “Unknowable”.

    In this case atheists are in arrogant denial of ultimate logic. If there were no rationality, and everything comes together by coincidence, how do the ultimate scientific laws discovered to date break down into simple equations like E=MC2 or thought experiments like the Heisenberg microscope. If the Universe were random how do these laws of the big and small work over and over with pinpoint accuracy?

    My beliefs are based on the writings of great thinkers like Einstein and not Philosophiocal pygmies like Sartre.

    THis brings me to one of my few [quarrels– ed] with organized religions. They have become too anthropogenic because of that very fear of the “Unknowable”. Therefore again,logic is thrown out the window in the attempt to prove the preconceived faith-based “Universal Truth.”

  • Mark Killefer

    “I’ve never met someone who doesn’t have and doesn’t cherish these moments when things all seem to come together, when the universe seems to make more sense than usual and we feel somehow at home.”

    Lovely words, Professor. I’m reminded of Jesus’ admonition that we should approach God as a little child, and that the praise from infants and toddlers is perfect. They, much more than adults, are keenly in tune with the balance of life, recognizing when everything is in it’s proper place and when it isn’t. They know one thing – complete dependence on their parents – and they are acutely aware of when that condition is satisfactory and when it isn’t. (And, as the new father of a 3-month old, I have found they will not hesitate to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction.)

    In my humble opinion, there is no greater satisfaction attainable that that of a little child who knows without question that their parents are loving and dependable. It feels, to use your words, like being at home. It is a satisfaction, I think, that we spend our whole lives trying to get back to – or if there is no way back, to re-create.

    Theists know that this can only be found in a deep love relationship with God. Those who reject God must search for an adequate facsimile – but there is none.

  • Simon

    “To understand where Christians are coming from with this whole God thing, it’s probably more useful to think about the heart of the universe than its king.”

    Heart of hearts,
    Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

  • Dave

    “I’ve never met someone who doesn’t have and doesn’t cherish these moments when things all seem to come together, when the universe seems to make more sense than usual and we feel somehow at home.”

    I wonder if I am the only person unable to relate to this statement. I grew up in a very religious environment and heard statements like this constantly from nearly everyone around me. I either haven’t felt or don’t remember feeling any feeling like what you’re describing and although I’ve never begrudged this phenomenon to those who do; I hope the insistence that it’s universal is not more damaging than organized religion generally realizes.

  • joe

    “There are in our existence spots of time,
    That with distinct pre-eminence retain
    A renovating virtue, whence–depressed
    By false opinion and contentious thought,
    Or aught of heavier or more deadly weight,
    In trivial occupations, and the round
    Of ordinary intercourse–our minds
    Are nourished and invisibly repaired;
    A virtue, by which pleasure is enhanced,
    That penetrates, enables us to mount,
    When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen.
    Wordsworth, Prelude, 12.208-218

  • Luke Lea

    “Atheists and agnostics experience transcendence in two ways; theists add a third.”

    It is a mistake to lump atheists and agnostics together, as if faith and doubt do not go together.

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